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The Inquisition by Ronan McDonnell - Contents Page
The Inquisition by Ronan McDonnell - Semper Quarens - Always Looking

Dread at the Controls

Mikey on his inlay card

Mikey on his inlay card

Mikey Dread (Michael Campbell) died in the US on 15 March 2008. Born in Jamaica in 1954 his life was cut short by a brain tumour.


Mikey rose to prominence working at Kingston’s Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation as a radio engineer and eventually becoming a DJ (albeit after midnight, and for over four hours at a at stretch) and solely playing reggae. Dread at The Controls didn’t last long in this incarnation and he found himself at odds with management who wanted more international pop music. The Inquisition has never heard recordings of this show but is lead to belive it was a precursor to his music – full of riddim, sound effects and whatever came to mind at the time.

Recording Artist

In 1978 Mikey recorded his first hit single – Barber Saloon. It is a paean to natty dreads and the antagonism of seeing the bald-heads in their barbershops. Or something along those lines. Within the year he followed it up with more singles and two albums.

According to his own website he diversified while still working as an engineer he began to produce for artists including Sugar Minott, Junior Murvin, Earl Sixteen, Wally Bucker, The Ovationz, Sunshine, Jah Grundy, UB40 and Rod Taylor. It was this work that got him recognised by the Clash who heard his music in London with its large West Indian communities. For most his legacy will be his collaboration with the Clash, having produced several tracks on their Sandinista album, including the single from those sessions – Bankrobber.

As a radio DJ he soared high with large listenership figures and accolades. As a musician and producer he worked with some of the biggest names in reggae. He eventually returned to his roots, as a sound engineer, studying National Broadcasting School in London the same year he worked on Sandinista.

Living in Miami Mikey waited for previous contracts to expire so he could re-release them. He bided his time with further education in TV/Video Production at the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale, and at Lynn University studying International Communications. In the end he, sadly, expired before all the contracts.


The Inquisition has one memory of seeing Mikey “perform” which will outlast any other. On an episode of Easyjet’s fly-on-the-wall documentary; Airline.

Mikey arrived at Luton, late for his flight. It had already gone. In a lame attempt by Easyjet’s customer service to show how hip they are, he got awarded cut-rate seats on the next flight by performing an a capella version of Happy Birthday for a staff member.

Obituary in the Guardian
Mikey Dread Website

This article was posted by on Wednesday, December 17th, 2008 at 03:52.
It is archived in Biography, Music and tagged , , , .

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